Public Square

Principled, Practical Ways for Christians to Think about Election Season

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Last night’s vice presidential debate helped me solidify some thoughts that have been percolating in my head for awhile now, thoughts concerning how Christians can think about election day and political elections in general.

As Christians, our participation in this great American experiment enables us to bring a biblical influence to our culture. While this is not a silver bullet that will fix all the ills of our society, it is a part of being salt and light in the part of the world where we live. Our call to serve our communities in this way is just as important to God as the work we do in our churches, our families, and our vocations.

Principled Ways to Think about Election Season

Ultimately, voting is an act of stewardship, and a choice that should be made with thoughtful consideration informed by biblical principles. The great evangelist Charles Finney wrote in 1835 about the need for Christians to vote:

God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as part of their duty to God…. God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.

In her article entitled 3 Reasons You Should Care About Election Day, Anne Chamberlin writes that as Christians, “We know that the purpose of government is not to save souls, but to ‘punish those who do evil and praise those who do good’” (1 Pet. 2:14). Chamberlin concludes:

We can serve (our country and our neighbors) by exercising the gift of self-rule wisely, shrewdly. As Christ’s regents, we can support sensible candidates and policies to help bring about freedom and quiet living rather than oppression, here in our little 21st-century kingdom called America.

Beyond recognizing the importance of voting, there are things Christians can do outside the ballot box to engage faithfully during election season. It sounds trite, but a major activity Christians can do is to commit to the truth the of Scripture. Anne Bradley explored this in a previous post written during this year’s primaries. She wrote,

The battle of ideas occurring in our country is bankrupt because we are fooled by the truths of the world instead of committing to the truths of Scripture…. It is our responsibility to advance the biblical principles of work, dignity, life, freedom, and flourishing.

Of course, advancing biblical principles is something we need to do in every season and not just during elections. Bradley concluded her thoughts by saying,

When we seek Scripture first, we see two important truths: what our job is and how to do it. Our job is to be good stewards and sub-creators for God in the pursuit of greater flourishing. Scripture contains the insight we need to make God-pleasing decisions as good stewards.

Our voting choices are part of what it means to be good stewards seeking to make God-pleasing decisions. Putting Scripture first and stewardship are two principles that should inform a Christian approach to elections.

So how can we be good stewards in the ballot box?

Practical Ways for Christians to Think about Election Season

A number of years ago Bill Bright, the founder of Cru, wrote Your 5 Duties As a Christian Citizen. In this short paper he suggests five important ways in which we can be salt and light in our communities:

  • Pray: Pray daily “for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness” (1 Timothy 2:2).
  • Register to vote: Be registered as a qualified voter so you can practice your citizenship with accountability to God.
  • Become informed: Inform yourself and others concerning the structure of government, current political problems and issues, and how to serve God effectively in the political arena at your level of influence.
  • Help elect godly people: Help select and elect men and women of God to public office at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Vote: Vote consistently in every election, after becoming informed about the various candidates and issues and evaluating them on the basis of the Word of God.

Take these thoughts with you as you go to the polls next month.

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  • anarchobuddy

    If this is so, why in the world should Christian political involvement be centered around voting? Why not running for office or campaigning? Why not lobbying year-round? If “our call to serve our communities in this way” is just as important as what we do in our families and churches, shouldn’t we spend just as much time focusing on the former? And why bring this up now, instead of at any other time, since it is so important?

  • The only political decision any person makes is what to do about Christ. Accept him as God and Savior and one’s politics will fall in line. Reject him and his politics will always be wrong. When a majority embraces Christ then the nation will have the wisest politicians. But if the majority rejects Christ, it will select foolish people for politicians. The most important political acts we can practice are not to vote, but to pray and witness.

  • Jan Koval

    How do we get past the charlatains who claim to belong to a religion that opposes, let’s say, abortion, but supports a woman’s right to have one? This is just one example of politicians who claim to be Christian and God-fearing, but vote contrary to their faith. What we need is more candidates who are not apologetic for their faith or how their religion asks
    them to vote on issues facing this country.

  • Michael Wright

    Thank you Hugh for this piece. The purpose of man under the authority of the Creator is to “be fruitful” (Genesis 1:28) This is not just a familial call (to produce offspring and raise a family), but it is a social command as well. Without going into all the specifics, a social call includes politics. Politics is the way we go about selecting leaders who will help keep order within society. Thus, not only is voting a part of sustaining social order, but voting for the kind of people who will enforce law and order in a way that free human flourishing is possible. This also means believers can and should enter the public forum of politics and seek office for the glory of God and the good of his creation.

  • PeterKushkowski

    Bill Bright’s “Help elect godly people: Help select and elect men and women of God to public office at the local, state, and national levels.”
    This platitude of Bright’s is worthless given our choice of candidates for President. Instead of voting for the person, I’m taking the pragmatic approach, and will be casting my vote on the long term basis of the kinds of Supreme Court Justices the next President will make.

  • Troy Austin

    Hello Hugh, I truly appreciate your wisdom and have directed many to this site and your book. I looked to this article to give me some guidance regarding our current choices. I unfortunately did not find any answers here. I would love more insight on what to do when you do not have Godly choices. While, I cannot vote for anyone who supports abortion, I am also struggling to bring myself to vote for Trump. I am left with the choice to “throw away my vote”.

    While I recognize that casting a vote for a 3d party or write in will essentially be throwing away my vote, I continue to think about the regret felt by the people of the church in Germany when they made a decision to support a narcissist. Even though a 3d party vote will be throwing away a vote, I am just not sure that I want to live with the regret of participating in putting such an individual in office. I am praying about this decision and trying to honor God, trusting that He is sovereign, and recognizing that our churches’ lack of desire for Godly leadership is what has gotten us to this place. If believers would have been unified around Godly leadership, these would not be our choices. I feel like we have made our bed as a country and God is allowing us to lie in it. I, however, did not make this choice and I am not real happy about having to lie in the bed others have chosen for me.

    Would love more specific Bonhoeffer type insight as to our current choices.

    Blessings,
    Troy

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